Mounties promote water safety in boat trip down MacKenzie River

NWT South District RCMP have just wrapped up the first edition of a boating safety tour along the MacKenzie River.

Police stated in a news release that from July 15 to 19, Special Constable Jordan Groenewegen of the Hay River detachment with the assistance of local members, visited Fort Providence, Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson and Wrigley aboard the Hay River RCMP Jet Boat.

Being surrounded by water brings loads of fun and leisure and every Northerner shares a strong connection with our rivers and lakes.

But RCMP stress that water safety is something Northerners should not take for granted as drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Along the five-day journey, the RCMP officers spoke regarding water and boat safety to over 50 attendees, including children.

Life jackets and boating safety kits were distributed thanks to a donation by GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) and Greenway Realty LTD.

RCMP explained, among other things, how to use a signaling device, the different types of life jackets and the importance of carrying an emergency kit when going on the water.

“Our presentation was received very positively. We spoke not only of safety on the water but also around water. Like telling kids to tell someone when they are going to play next to the river. Or tell the children to remind the elders they also need to wear a safety vest”, stated S/Cst Groenewegen.

The river was calm, the sky was clear except for one storm our RCMP officers waited out between Fort Simpson and Wrigley.

Down the river, RCMP officers even spotted international travellers from the US, France and Japan, on their journey to Inuvik by canoe and kayak.

“This trip was a positive way to get out there and to engage with local people” ads S/Cst Groewenegen.

Some numbers:

According to the Lifesaving Society, who’s hosting the National Drowning Prevention Week (July 21-27, 2019)


  • The age groups with the highest risk of drowning are young adults 20-24 years of age, baby boomers 50-64 years of age and seniors over 65.
  • Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among Canadian children under 10 year of age.
  • Not wearing a lifejacket or PFD was a factor in 84% of boating deaths.
  • Always swim with a buddy: 55% of 5-14 year olds drowned when alone or with other minors.
  • Alcohol was a factor in 36% of all boating fatalities.

According to the Canadian Red Cross Society, in a study published in 2014, rates of boating-related fatalities in the territory are much higher than the national average.

Between 1991 and 2010, the average rate of boating fatality was 9.6 per 100 000 in the NWT, compared to the Canadian rate of 0.6 per 100 000.



About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.